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Healthy Workforce Act was first introduced in the 110th Congressional Congress
(January 2009 – January 2011) as Senate bill 1753 and House bill 3717 . The bill
was sponsored by Senator Thomas Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Tom Udall (D-NM).
This proposed tax credit for comprehensive workplace health promotion programs.
It was reintroduced in the 111th Congress.
The Secretary of HHS, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will develop simple standards to determine qualifying criteria but all programs must have the following specific features: 1). Include at least three of the following four components: health awareness, behavior change, employee engagement and supportive environments. 2). Use practices that are consistent with evidence based research and best practices strategies. 3). Focus on employee populations with disproportionate health burdens, and be culturally competent and meet employee’s health literacy needs. 4). Offer all programs to all employees who work at least 25 hours per week.
Why is this Important?
The workplace is the most cost effective setting to improve people’s health because people spend so much of their waking time at work, economies of scale and quality controls can be achieved, and employers will pay most of the program costs. This tax credit will stimulate investments in workplace health promotion programs by health plans and by employers, especially small employers who are not self insured and thus do not capture medical cost reductions that occur when health improves and medical costs drop. This legislation is expected to engage 28 million employees in 76 thousand workplaces in organized efforts to improve their health for the first time.
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Economic impact. New investments in health promotion stimulated by this bill are expected to create 41,000 new health promotion jobs, at $75,000 per job. Income and payroll taxes from these new jobs are expected to cover 80% of the cost of the tax credit. If new health promotion programs save only 20 cents in medical costs for every 1 dollar invested, total new income and payroll tax will cover the full cost of the tax credit, and the legislation will be revenue neutral. Also tax credits will be redeemable by employers in the year AFTER they invest in programs. Therefore, if there is no spending on programs, no tax credits will be granted, thus eliminating financial risk to the federal government.
Ryan, M. (2011, July 11). Healthy Workforce Act. In Health Promotion Advocates. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from http://healthpromotionadvocates.org/2011/07/healthy-workforce-act/